Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2014: President Obama and Republic of Korea President Park’s Remarks before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and President Park of the Republic of Korea before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 4-25-14 

Blue House
Seoul, Republic of Korea

4:21 P.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I would like to thank President Park for welcoming me here today.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to come back to the Republic of Korea.  But I am very mindful that my visit comes at a time of deep mourning for the people of this nation and I know that President Park and the South Korean government are focused on responding to the tragedy of the ferry Sewol.

In our press conference later, President Park and I will have the opportunity to address a range of issues that we’ll be discussing here today.  But for now, I just wanted to express on behalf of the American people our deepest sympathies for the incredible and tragic loss that’s taken place.  As allies but also as friends, we join you in mourning the lost and the missing, and especially so many young people, students who represented the vitality and the future of this nation.

So, President Park, I thought that it would be appropriate and fitting for us to begin today by honoring the lost and the missing.  And our delegation, out of respect, would appreciate the opportunity to join together in a moment of silence.

(Moment of silence.)

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, thank you so much for making this proposal to hold a moment of silence for the victims of the ferry Sewol.  Right after the tragic accident, you personally expressed your condolences and your sympathies, and you were unsparing in providing active U.S. assistance, including the dispatch of salvage vessels.  The Korean people draw great strength and courage from your kindness.

Just as the American people were able to rally together in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and were able to prevail over difficult times, so, too, I am sure that Korean people will, in fact, pull through this moment of crisis and be able to achieve the renewal of the Republic of Korea.

Mr. President, my sincere welcome to you once again on your visit to Korea, and may our summit meeting today kick off the next 60 years and produce very meaningful results that allow us to do so.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, thank you, President Park.  The Republic of Korea is one of our strongest allies in the world.  I’m looking forward to our discussion and to reaffirming America’s unshakeable commitment to South Korea and its security.

One last point I wanted to make — I have with me this American flag that I believe our protocol people have.  In the United States, we have a tradition — after the loss of our servicemembers and veterans, we present a flag in their honor to their loved ones.  This flag was flown over the White House the same day as the sinking of the Sewol.  And in that spirit, I’m presenting this American flag to you and the people of the Republic of Korea on behalf of the American people.  It reflects our deep condolences, but also our solidarity with you during this difficult time, and our great pride in calling you an ally and a friend.

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, thank you so much again for sharing in our sorrow, the sorrow of the Korean people as well as the bereaved families, and for your gracious gesture.

END
4:30 P.M. KST

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Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers

Remarks by President Obama at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers

Source: WH, 4-25-14

The War Memorial of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea

1:28 P.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, good afternoon.  Annyeonghaseyo.  It is an honor to be here at the War Memorial of Korea.  In a few moments, I’ll lay a wreath to pay tribute to our servicemembers who’ve given their lives in defense of our freedom.  And tomorrow, I’ll address our troops and civilians at Yongsan Garrison.

I have said before, I have no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.  And today, I can think of no higher privilege than being here with all of you and your families for this special moment — becoming the newest citizens of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.

I know that each of you have traveled your own path to this moment.  You come from 14 different countries.  Some of you have called Seoul home.  But a day came when each one of you did something extraordinary:  Thirteen of you made the profound decision to put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own.  Seven of you married an American soldier -– and as a military spouse, that means you’ve been serving our country, too.

If there’s anything that this should teach us, it’s that America is strengthened by our immigrants.  I had a chance to talk to our Ambassador and our Commander here, and I said to them that there’s no greater strength, no greater essence of America than the fact that we attract people from all around the world who want to be part of our democracy.  We are a nation of immigrants — people from every corner, every walk of life, who picked up tools to help build our country, who started up businesses to advance our country, who took up arms to defend our country.

What makes us Americans is something more than just the circumstances of birth, what we look like, what God we worship, but rather it is a joyful spirit of citizenship.  Citizenship demands participation and responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.  And few embody that more than our men and women in uniform.

If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest, the smartest and the most selfless the world has to offer, then we have to keep this in mind:  the value of our immigrants to our way of life.  It is central to who we are; it’s in our DNA.  It’s part of our creed.  And that means moving forward we’ve got to fix our broken immigration system and pass common-sense immigration reform.

This is a huge advantage to us — the talent that we attract.  We don’t want to make it harder; we want to make it more sensible, more efficient.  That’s why I’m going to keep on pushing to get this done this year, so that others like the young men and women here have the opportunity to join our American family and serve our great nation.

Today, I’m thrilled that, in a few moments, I’ll get to call each of you my fellow Americans.  I am so proud to be sharing this stage with you today.  Congratulations.  But I don’t want to talk too long because I’m not the main event.  Thank you very much for your service.  (Applause.)

END
1:32 P.M. KST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech to Miraikan Science and Youth Expo in Japan

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama to Miraikan Science and Youth Expo

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks at the Miraikan Science Expo

President Obama Speaks at the Miraikan Science Expo

Source: WH,  4-24-14

Miraikan Museum Tokyo, Japan

3:27 P.M. JST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Konnichiwa.  Please sit down.  Thank you so much.  Well, I want to thank Dr. Mohri and everyone at The Miraikan for welcoming me here today.  And it is wonderful to see all of these outstanding students.  Dr. Mohri is a veteran of two space shuttle missions, embodies the spirit that brings us here together —- the incredible cooperation in science and technology between Japan and the United States.

I want to thank all the students that I had a chance to meet with as we went around the various exhibits.  We heard a message from the international space station.  We saw some truly amazing robots — although I have to say the robots were a little scary. They were too lifelike.  They were amazing.  And these students showed me some of their experiments, including some soccer-playing robots that we just saw.  And all of the exhibits I think showed the incredible breakthroughs in technology and science that are happening every single day.

And historically, Japan and the United States have been at the cutting-edge of innovation.  From some of the first modern calculators decades ago to the devices that we hold in our hands today — the smartphones that I’m sure every young person here uses — Japan and the United States have often led the way in the innovations that change our lives and improve our lives.

And that’s why I’m so pleased that the United States and Japan are renewing the 10-year agreement that makes so much of our science and technology cooperation possible.  Both of our societies celebrate innovation, celebrate science, celebrate technology.  We’re close partners in the industries of tomorrow. And it reminds us why it’s so important for us to continue to invest in science, technology, math, engineering.  These are the schools — these are the skills that students like all of you are going to need for the global economy, and that includes our talented young women.

Historically, sometimes young women have been less represented in the sciences, and one of the things that I’ve really been pushing for is to make sure that young women, just like young men, are getting trained in these fields, because we need all the talent and brainpower to solve some of the challenges that we’re going to face in the future.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Abe and I announced a new initiative to increase student exchanges, including bringing more Japanese students to the United States.  So I hope you’ll come.  Welcome.  And it’s part of our effort to double students exchanges in the coming years.  As we saw today, young people like you have at your fingertips more technology and more power than even the greatest innovators in previous generations. So there’s no limit to what you can achieve, and the United States of America wants to be your partner.

So I’m very proud to have been here today.  I was so excited by what I saw.  The young people here were incredibly impressive.  And as one of our outstanding astronauts described, as we just are a few days after Earth Day, it’s important when we look at this globe and we think about how technology has allowed us to understand the planet that we share, and to understand not only the great possibilities but also the challenges and dangers from things like climate change — that your generation is going to help us to find answers to some of the questions that we have to answer.  Whether it’s:  How do we feed more people in an environment in which it’s getting warmer? How do we make sure that we’re coming up with new energy sources that are less polluting and can save our environment?  How do we find new medicines that can cure diseases that take so many lives around the globe?  To the robots that we saw that can save people’s lives after a disaster because they can go into places like Fukushima that it may be very dangerous for live human beings to enter into.  These are all applications, but it starts with the imaginations and the vision of young people like you.

So I’m very proud of all of you and glad to see that you’re doing such great work.  You have counterparts in the United States who share your excitement about technology and science.  I hope you get a chance to meet them.  I hope you get a chance to visit the United States.  As far as I know, we don’t have one of those cool globes, but we have some other pretty neat things in the United States as well.  And I hope we can share those with you if and when you come.

Thank you very much.  And I just want you to know in closing that I really believe that each of you can make a difference.  Gambatte kudasai.  You can do this thing if you apply yourselves.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END 3:33 P.M. JST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Toast at the State Dinner Held in his Honor at Japan’s Imperial Palace

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Toast Remarks by President Obama at State Dinner

Source: WH, 4-24-14 

Imperial Palace
Tokyo, Japan

7:48 P.M. JST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening.  Konbanwa.  Your Majesties, I thank you for the extraordinary welcome that you have given to me and my delegation today, and I thank you for your gracious hospitality tonight.

Prime Minister Abe and Mrs. Abe, distinguished guests and friends:  It has been nearly 50 years since my mother first brought me to Japan, but I have never forgotten the kindness that the Japanese people showed me as a six-year-old boy far away from home.  I remain grateful for the welcome that Your Majesties gave me when I returned here as President, on the 20th anniversary of your ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

And I am deeply honored to be with you as a Guest of State tonight — which is a reflection of the great friendship between our two peoples.

It’s also very humbling.  I stand here as the 44th President of the United States. Your Majesty is the 125th Emperor of Japan. And your family has embodied the spirit of the Japanese people across more than two millennia.  And we feel that spirit here tonight — in His Majesty’s commitment to achieving peace and the resilience of the Japanese people, who despite difficult decades, despite the tragedies of three years ago, continue to inspire the world with your strength and discipline and dignity — your hinkaku.

And I saw that spirit today.  In the glory of the Meiji Shrine, I experienced the beauty of a religious ceremony rooted in Japan’s ancient past.  In my work with Prime Minister Abe, we have strengthened our alliance for today — an alliance that will never be broken.  And in the eager students that I met, and the remarkable technologies that I saw, I glimpsed the future our nations can forge together.

Through all of this, although we are separated by vast oceans, our peoples come together every day in every realm.  We create and build together, sparking new innovations for a changing world.  We study and research together, unlocking new discoveries to cure disease and save lives.  We go to the far corners of the Earth together — to keep the peace and feed the hungry.  And we go to space together to understand the mysteries of the universe.  We stand together in moments of joy — as when Japanese baseball players help propel America’s teams to victory. And we stand together in moments of difficulty and pain, as we did three years ago.

Your Majesty, we will never forget how, in those trying days, you spoke from this palace directly to the people of this nation. And I would like to conclude by recalling the spirit of your message then, because it also remains our wish tonight, for the friendship and alliance between our two peoples.

May we never give up hope.  May we always take care of each other.  And may we continue to live strong for tomorrow.

END
7:53 P.M. JST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 23, 2014: President Obama and Japan Prime Minister Abe’s Remarks Before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan Before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 4-23-14 

Akasaka Palace
Tokyo, Japan

10:33 A.M. JST

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  (As interpreted.)  On behalf of the government and the people of Japan, I would like to sincerely welcome President Obama as our state guest.

At the outset, I would like to once again express my heartfelt gratitude for the assistance from the United States in the aftermath of the great East Japan earthquake.  More than 20,000 servicemembers of the U.S. forces participated in Operation Tomodachi.  And as a matter of fact, Japanese people were greatly encouraged and helped by the assistance extended from the government and the people of the United States.  And I am truly grateful for that.

Japan has been walking on the path of peace based on its peaceful orientation in a consistent manner for the past 70 years after the Second World War.  Japan and the United States share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and fundamental human rights, and also we share strategic interests.  And the alliance between these two nations is indispensable and irreplaceable as the foundation for a peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific region.

Your visit to Asia this time is a testament to the U.S. revised policy which attaches importance to this region.  This greatly contributes to regional peace and prosperity, and Japan strongly supports and also certainly welcomes this.

My administration intends to contribute to regional peace and prosperity more practically than ever, in line with the policy of what I call practical contribution to peace based on the principle on international cooperation.  And together with the United States, Japan would like to realize our leading role of the alliance in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific.

Today, at this meeting, I look forward to having exchanges with you on how the alliance should look like in the future, based on the cooperation we have had so far.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your delegation, as well as the Japanese people for the incredibly gracious hospitality that you’ve provided us so far during this visit.

As you indicated, the U.S.-Japan alliance is the foundation for not only our security in the Asia Pacific region but also for the region as a whole.  And we have continued to strengthen it. We are looking at a whole range of issues that are challenging at this time, including the threats posed by North Korea and the nuclearization that’s been taking place in that country.  But because of the strong cooperation between our countries I am confident that we will continue to make progress in the future.

Of course, the bonds between our countries are not restricted to a military alliance.  We represent two of the three largest economies in the world, and we have the opportunity by working together to help shape an open and innovative and dynamic economy throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Our shared democratic values means that we have to work together in multilateral settings to deal with regional hotspots around the globe but also to try to make sure that we are creating a strong set of rules that govern the international order.  And the strong people-to-people bonds that we have and the educational and scientific and cultural exchanges that we have means that our friendship and alliance I’m confident will continue for generations to come.

So I look forward to very productive meetings today.  And I want to once again thank you for your hospitality.  As you said, my visit here I think once again represents my deep belief that a strong U.S.-Japan relationship is not only good for our countries but good for the world.

END
10:44 A.M. JST

Obama Presidency April 22-29, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Asia Trip Spring 2014 Schedule

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Asia Trip Spring 2014

The President’s Trip to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines

April 22 to April 29

President Obama’s fifth trip to Asia during his time in office will underscore a continued focus on the Asia-Pacific region and commitment to his vision of rebalancing to the world’s largest emerging region. The President’s visit to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines will focus on our major priorities in the region: modernizing our alliances; supporting democratic development; advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and commercial ties; investing in regional institutions; and deepening cultural and people-to-people ties.

April 24, 2014

On Board with President Obama in Japan

In Tokyo, the President was received at the Imperial Palace by the Emperor and Empress of Japan, held a press conference with Prime Minister Abe, visited students and robots at Miraikan Science and Youth Expo, and saw Meiji shrine.

April 21, 2014

Previewing the President’s Trip to Asia, Spring 2014

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes previews the President’s trip to Japan, Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines during.


President Obama’s April 2014 Asia Trip Schedule

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama departs for Tokyo, Japan

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

  • In the afternoon, President Obama arrives in Tokyo, Japan
  • Later, the President joins Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for a private dinner

Thursday, April 24, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama meets with Emperor Akihito of Japan at the Imperial Palace
  • The President meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at Akasaka Palace
  • In the afternoon, the President participates in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe
  • Later, President Obama delivers remarks at a youth and science event with students at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
  • The President visits Meiji Shrine
  • President Obama attends the Japan State Dinner and delivers remarks

Friday, April 25, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama greets members of the U.S. Embassy in Japan
  • Later that morning, the President bids farewell to the Emperor Akihito of Japan
  • In the afternoon, President Obama travels to Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • The President visits the National War Memorial and participates in a wreath-laying ceremony
  • Later, the President visits Gyengbok Palace
  • President Obama meets with President Park at the Blue House

Saturday, April 26, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama participates in a roundtable meeting with business leaders to discuss trade policy
  • Later, the President participates in a Combined Forces Command Briefing at Yongsan Garrison and delivers remarks
  • In the afternoon, the President travels to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • President Obama participates in an arrival ceremony in Parliament Square
  • Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner and delivers remarks at Istana Negara

Sunday, April 27, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama greets members of the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia
  • Later, the President visits the National Mosque of Malaysia
  • President Obama meets with Prime Minister Najib Razak at Perdana Putra
  • In the afternoon, President Obama attends a working lunch with Prime Minister Najib Razak
  • The President delivers remarks at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center
  • Later, the President participates in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall at the University of Malaysia

Monday, April 28, 2014

  • The President travels to Manila, Philippines, and participates in an arrival ceremony at Malacanang Palace
  • Later that afternoon, President Obama meets with President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines
  • President Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Aquino
  • The President greets members of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines
  • Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner with President Aquino at Malacanang Palace

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama delivers remarks at Fort Bonafacio
  • Later that morning, the President participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery
  • The President travels back to Washington, D.C.

Full Text Obama Presidency November 19, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Myanmar Speech at the University of Yangon, Rangoon, Burma

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Promises Support for the People of Burma

Source: WH, 11-19-12

President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the University of Yangon (November 19, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the University of Yangon in Rangoon, Burma, Nov. 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by President Obama at the University of Yangon

Rangoon, Burma

2:39 P.M. MMT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Myanmar Naingan, Mingalaba!  (Laughter and applause.)  I am very honored to be here at this university and to be the first President of the United States of America to visit your country.

I came here because of the importance of your country.  You live at the crossroads of East and South Asia.  You border the most populated nations on the planet.  You have a history that reaches back thousands of years, and the ability to help determine the destiny of the fastest growing region of the world.

I came here because of the beauty and diversity of your country.  I have seen just earlier today the golden stupa of Shwedagon, and have been moved by the timeless idea of metta — the belief that our time on this Earth can be defined by tolerance and by love.  And I know this land reaches from the crowded neighborhoods of this old city to the homes of more than 60,000 villages; from the peaks of the Himalayas, the forests of Karen State, to the banks of the Irrawady River.

I came here because of my respect for this university.  It was here at this school where opposition to colonial rule first took hold.  It was here that Aung San edited a magazine before leading an independence movement.  It was here that U Thant learned the ways of the world before guiding it at the United Nations.  Here, scholarship thrived during the last century and students demanded their basic human rights.  Now, your Parliament has at last passed a resolution to revitalize this university and it must reclaim its greatness, because the future of this country will be determined by the education of its youth.

I came here because of the history between our two countries.  A century ago, American traders, merchants and missionaries came here to build bonds of faith and commerce and friendship.  And from within these borders in World War II, our pilots flew into China and many of our troops gave their lives.  Both of our nations emerged from the British Empire, and the United States was among the first countries to recognize an independent Union of Burma.  We were proud to found an American Center in Rangoon and to build exchanges with schools like this one.  And through decades of differences, Americans have been united in their affection for this country and its people.

Above all, I came here because of America’s belief in human dignity.  Over the last several decades, our two countries became strangers.  But today, I can tell you that we always remained hopeful about the people of this country, about you.  You gave us hope and we bore witness to your courage.

We saw the activists dressed in white visit the families of political prisoners on Sundays and monks dressed in saffron protesting peacefully in the streets.  We learned of ordinary people who organized relief teams to respond to a cyclone, and heard the voices of students and the beats of hip-hop artists projecting the sound of freedom.  We came to know exiles and refugees who never lost touch with their families or their ancestral home.  And we were inspired by the fierce dignity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as she proved that no human being can truly be imprisoned if hope burns in your heart.

When I took office as President, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear.  I said, in my inauguration address, “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”  And over the last year and a half, a dramatic transition has begun, as a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip.  Under President Thein Sein, the desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform.  A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself.  The once-outlawed National League for Democracy stood in an election, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Member of Parliament.  Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released, and forced labor has been banned.  Preliminary cease-fires have been reached with ethnic armies, and new laws allow for a more open economy.

So today, I’ve come to keep my promise and extend the hand of friendship.  America now has an Ambassador in Rangoon, sanctions have been eased, and we will help rebuild an economy that can offer opportunity for its people, and serve as an engine of growth for the world.  But this remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go.  Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation.  The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished — they must be strengthened; they must become a shining North Star for all this nation’s people.

And your success in that effort is important to the United States, as well as to me.  Even though we come from different places, we share common dreams:  to choose our leaders; to live together in peace; to get an education and make a good living; to love our families and our communities.  That’s why freedom is not an abstract idea; freedom is the very thing that makes human progress possible — not just at the ballot box, but in our daily lives.

One of our greatest Presidents in the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, understood this truth.  He defined America’s cause as more than the right to cast a ballot.  He understood democracy was not just voting.  He called upon the world to embrace four fundamental freedoms:  freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.  These four freedoms reinforce one another, and you cannot fully realize one without realizing them all.

So that’s the future that we seek for ourselves, and for all people.  And that is what I want to speak to you about today.

First, we believe in the right of free expression so that the voices of ordinary people can be heard, and governments reflect their will — the people’s will.

In the United States, for more than two centuries, we have worked to keep this promise for all of our citizens — to win freedom for those who were enslaved; to extend the right to vote for women and African Americans; to protect the rights of workers to organize.

And we recognize no two nations achieve these rights in exactly the same way, but there is no question that your country will be stronger if it draws on the strength of all of its people.  That’s what allows nations to succeed.  That’s what reform has begun to do.

Instead of being repressed, the right of people to assemble together must now be fully respected.  Instead of being stifled, the veil of media censorship must continue to be lifted.  And as you take these steps, you can draw on your progress.  Instead of being ignored, citizens who protested the construction of the Myitsone dam were heard.  Instead of being outlawed, political parties have been allowed to participate.  You can see progress being made.  As one voter said during the parliamentary elections here, “Our parents and grandparents waited for this, but never saw it.”  And now you can see it.  You can taste freedom.

And to protect the freedom of all the voters, those in power must accept constraints.  That’s what our American system is designed to do.  Now, America may have the strongest military in the world, but it must submit to civilian control.  I, as the President of the United States, make determinations that the military then carries out, not the other way around.  As President and Commander-In-Chief, I have that responsibility because I’m accountable to the people.

Now, on other hand, as President, I cannot just impose my will on Congress — the Congress of the United States — even though sometimes I wish I could.  The legislative branch has its own powers and its own prerogatives, and so they check my power and balance my power.  I appoint some of our judges, but I cannot tell them how to rule, because every person in America — from a child living in poverty to me, the President of the United States — is equal under the law.  And a judge can make a determination as to whether or not I am upholding the law or breaking the law.  And I am fully accountable to that law.

And I describe our system in the United States because that’s how you must reach for the future that you deserve — a future where a single prisoner of conscience is one too many.  You need to reach for a future where the law is stronger than any single leader, because it’s accountable to the people.  You need to reach for a future where no child is made to be a soldier and no woman is exploited, and where the laws protect them even if they’re vulnerable, even if they’re weak; a future where national security is strengthened by a military that serves under civilians and a Constitution that guarantees that only those who are elected by the people may govern.

On that journey, America will support you every step of the way — by using our assistance to empower civil society; by engaging your military to promote professionalism and human rights; and by partnering with you as you connect your progress towards democracy with economic development.  So advancing that journey will help you pursue a second freedom — the belief that all people should be free from want.

It’s not enough to trade a prison of powerlessness for the pain of an empty stomach.  But history shows that governments of the people and by the people and for the people are far more powerful in delivering prosperity.  And that’s the partnership we seek with you.

When ordinary people have a say in their own future, then your land can’t just be taken away from you.  And that’s why reforms must ensure that the people of this nation can have that most fundamental of possessions — the right to own the title to the land on which you live and on which you work.

When your talents are unleashed, then opportunity will be created for all people.  America is lifting our ban on companies doing business here, and your government has lifted restrictions on investment and taken steps to open up your economy.  And now, as more wealth flows into your borders, we hope and expect that it will lift up more people.  It can’t just help folks at the top.  It has to help everybody.  And that kind of economic growth, where everybody has opportunity — if you work hard, you can succeed — that’s what gets a nation moving rapidly when it comes to develop.

But that kind of growth can only be created if corruption is left behind.  For investment to lead to opportunity, reform must promote budgets that are transparent and industry that is privately owned.

To lead by example, America now insists that our companies meet high standards of openness and transparency if they’re doing business here.  And we’ll work with organizations like the World Bank to support small businesses and to promote an economy that allows entrepreneurs, small businesspeople to thrive and allows workers to keep what they earn.  And I very much welcome your government’s recent decision to join what we’ve called our Open Government Partnership, so that citizens can come to expect accountability and learn exactly how monies are spent and how your system of government operates.

Above all, when your voices are heard in government, it’s far more likely that your basic needs will be met.  And that’s why reform must reach the daily lives of those who are hungry and those who are ill, and those who live without electricity or water.  And here, too, America will do our part in working with you.

Today, I was proud to reestablish our USAID mission in this country, which is our lead development agency.  And the United States wants to be a partner in helping this country, which used to be the rice bowl of Asia, to reestablish its capacity to feed its people and to care for its sick, and educate its children, and build its democratic institutions as you continue down the path of reform.

This country is famous for its natural resources, and they must be protected against exploitation.  And let us remember that in a global economy, a country’s greatest resource is its people.  So by investing in you, this nation can open the door for far more prosperity — because unlocking a nation’s potential depends on empowering all its people, especially its young people.

Just as education is the key to America’s future, it is going to the be the key to your future as well.  And so we look forward to working with you, as we have with many of your neighbors, to extend that opportunity and to deepen exchanges among our students.  We want students from this country to travel to the United States and learn from us, and we want U.S. students to come here and learn from you.

And this truth leads me to the third freedom that I want to discuss:  the freedom to worship — the freedom to worship as you please, and your right to basic human dignity.

This country, like my own country, is blessed with diversity.  Not everybody looks the same.  Not everybody comes from the same region.  Not everybody worships in the same way.  In your cities and towns, there are pagodas and temples, and mosques and churches standing side by side.  Well over a hundred ethnic groups have been a part of your story.  Yet within these borders, we’ve seen some of the world’s longest running insurgencies, which have cost countless lives, and torn families and communities apart, and stood in the way of development.

No process of reform will succeed without national reconciliation.  (Applause.)  You now have a moment of remarkable opportunity to transform cease-fires into lasting settlements, and to pursue peace where conflicts still linger, including in Kachin State.  Those efforts must lead to a more just and lasting peace, including humanitarian access to those in need, and a chance for the displaced to return home.

Today, we look at the recent violence in Rakhine State that has caused so much suffering, and we see the danger of continued tensions there.  For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution.  But there is no excuse for violence against innocent people.  And the Rohingya hold themselves — hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.

National reconciliation will take time, but for the sake of our common humanity, and for the sake of this country’s future, it is necessary to stop incitement and to stop violence.  And I welcome the government’s commitment to address the issues of injustice and accountability, and humanitarian access and citizenship.  That’s a vision that the world will support as you move forward.

Every nation struggles to define citizenship.  America has had great debates about these issues, and those debates continue to this day, because we’re a nation of immigrants — people coming from every different part of the world.  But what we’ve learned in the United States is that there are certain principles that are universal, apply to everybody no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what religion you practice.  The right of people to live without the threat that their families may be harmed or their homes may be burned simply because of who they are or where they come from.

Only the people of this country ultimately can define your union, can define what it means to be a citizen of this country.  But I have confidence that as you do that you can draw on this diversity as a strength and not a weakness.  Your country will be stronger because of many different cultures, but you have to seize that opportunity.  You have to recognize that strength.

I say this because my own country and my own life have taught me the power of diversity.  The United States of America is a nation of Christians and Jews, and Muslims and Buddhists, and Hindus and non-believers.  Our story is shaped by every language; it’s enriched by every culture.  We have people from every corners of the world.  We’ve tasted the bitterness of civil war and segregation, but our history shows us that hatred in the human heart can recede; that the lines between races and tribes fade away.  And what’s left is a simple truth: e pluribus unum — that’s what we say in America.  Out of many, we are one nation and we are one people.  And that truth has, time and again, made our union stronger.  It has made our country stronger.  It’s part of what has made America great.

We amended our Constitution to extend the democratic principles that we hold dear.  And I stand before you today as President of the most powerful nation on Earth, but recognizing that once the color of my skin would have denied me the right to vote.  And so that should give you some sense that if our country can transcend its differences, then yours can, too.  Every human being within these borders is a part of your nation’s story, and you should embrace that.  That’s not a source of weakness, that’s a source of strength — if you recognize it.

And that brings me to the final freedom that I will discuss today, and that is the right of all people to live free from fear.

In many ways, fear is the force that stands between human beings and their dreams.  Fear of conflict and the weapons of war.  Fear of a future that is different from the past.  Fear of changes that are reordering our societies and economy.  Fear of people who look different, or come from a different place, or worship in a different way.  In some of her darkest moments, when Aung San Suu Kyi was imprisoned, she wrote an essay about freedom from fear.  She said fear of losing corrupts those who wield it — “Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”

That’s the fear that you can leave behind.  We see that chance in leaders who are beginning to understand that power comes from appealing to people’s hopes, not people’s fears.  We see it in citizens who insist that this time must be different, that this time change will come and will continue.  As Aung San Suu Kyi wrote: “Fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”  I believe that.  And today, you are showing the world that fear does not have to be the natural state of life in this country.

That’s why I am here.  That’s why I came to Rangoon.  And that’s why what happens here is so important — not only to this region, but to the world.  Because you’re taking a journey that has the potential to inspire so many people.  This is a test of whether a country can transition to a better place.

The United States of America is a Pacific nation, and we see our future as bound to those nations and peoples to our West.  And as our economy recovers, this is where we believe we will find enormous growth.  As we have ended the wars that have dominated our foreign policy for a decade, this region will be a focus for our efforts to build a prosperous peace.

Here in Southeast Asia, we see the potential for integration among nations and people.  And as President, I have embraced ASEAN for reasons that go beyond the fact that I spent some of my childhood in this region, in Indonesia.  Because with ASEAN, we see nations that are on the move — nations that are growing, and democracies that are emerging; governments that are cooperating; progress that’s building on the diversity that spans oceans and islands and jungles and cities, peoples of every race and every religion.  This is what the 21st century should look like if we have the courage to put aside our differences and move forward with a sense of mutual interest and mutual respect.

And here in Rangoon, I want to send a message across Asia: We don’t need to be defined by the prisons of the past.  We need to look forward to the future.  To the leadership of North Korea, I have offered a choice:  let go of your nuclear weapons and choose the path of peace and progress.  If you do, you will find an extended hand from the United States of America.

In 2012, we don’t need to cling to the divisions of East, West and North and South.  We welcome the peaceful rise of China, your neighbor to the North; and India, your neighbor to the West.  The United Nations — the United States will work with any nation, large or small, that will contribute to a world that is more peaceful and more prosperous, and more just and more free.  And the United States will be a friend to any nation that respects the rights of its citizens and the responsibilities of international law.

That’s the nation, that’s the world that you can start to build here in this historic city.  This nation that’s been so isolated can show the world the power of a new beginning, and demonstrate once again that the journey to democracy goes hand in hand with development.  I say this knowing that there are still countless people in this country who do not enjoy the opportunities that many of you seated here do.  There are tens of millions who have no electricity.  There are prisoners of conscience who still await release.  There are refugees and displaced peoples in camps where hope is still something that lies on the distant horizon.

Today, I say to you — and I say to everybody that can hear my voice — that the United States of America is with you, including those who have been forgotten, those who are dispossessed, those who are ostracized, those who are poor.  We carry your story in our heads and your hopes in our hearts, because in this 21st century with the spread of technology and the breaking down of barriers, the frontlines of freedom are within nations and individuals, not simply between them.

As one former prisoner put it in speaking to his fellow citizens, “Politics is your job.  It’s not only for [the] politicians.”  And we have an expression in the United States that the most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen — not President, not Speaker, but citizen.  (Applause.)

So as extraordinary and difficult and challenging and sometimes frustrating as this journey may seem, in the end, you, the citizens of this country, are the ones who must define what freedom means.  You’re the ones who are going to have to seize freedom, because a true revolution of the spirit begins in each of our hearts.  It requires the kind of courage that so many of your leaders have already displayed.

The road ahead will be marked by huge challenges, and there will be those who resist the forces of change.  But I stand here with confidence that something is happening in this country that cannot be reversed, and the will of the people can lift up this nation and set a great example for the world.  And you will have in the United States of America a partner on that long journey.  So, cezu tin bad de.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
3:10 P.M. MMT

Full Text Obama Presidency November 18, 19, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speeches, Press Conferences & Bilateral Meetings during Southeast Asia Trip to Thailand, Myanmar, Burma

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:







Political Headlines November 18, 2012: President Barack Obama Defends Myanmar Visit, ‘Not An Endorsement’ at a joint press conference with Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Defends Myanmar Visit, ‘Not An Endorsement’

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-18-12

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

President Obama Sunday defended his decision to visit Myanmar against critics who say the trip is premature, saying it’s “an acknowledgement” of the country’s democratic progress but not “an endorsement.”

“I don’t think anybody’s under any illusion that Burma has arrived, that they’re where they need to be,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. “On the other hand, if we waited to engage until they had achieved a perfect democracy, my suspicion is we’d be waiting an awful long time.”

“One of the goals of this trip is to highlight the progress that has been made but also to give voice to the much greater progress that needs to be made in the future,” he said….READ MORE

White House Recap August 27-September 2, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Focuses on the Aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Jobs Plan & Economic Growth — Urges Extension of Transportation Act

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: AUGUST 20-26, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: We the People

Source: WH, 9-2-11
Weekly Address September 1st 2011

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address in the Blue Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Here’s what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov

Hurricane Irene: The storm may have passed, but the recovery is just beginning. Irene caused severe flooding throughout the Northeast.  As cities and towns along the East coast continue assessing damage, President Obama also reflected on the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

We the People:  This week Whitehouse.gov announced our most recent initiative:  We the People will bring significant change to how the public can engage with the White House online. This new tool enables people to easily start a petition; once a petition garners enough support, it will be reviewed by White House policy officials.

Council of Economic Advisers: On Monday in the Rose Garden, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Alan B. Krueger to lead the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). As one of the nation’s leading economists, Dr. Krueger will bring decades of experience, including a stint as chief economist at the Treasury Department, and a wealth of knowledge to the challenge of creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

American Legion Conference: Speaking before the American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis on Tuesday, President Obama said that America’s military is the best it’s ever been, and celebrated the contributions of the post 9/11 generation, who have changed the way America fights and wins our wars.

Surface Transportation Act:  On Wednesday, President Obama spoke on the South Lawn urging Congress to pass a clean extension of key transportation programs as soon as possible. If Congress doesn’t act, the nation’s surface transportation program will expire at the end of September.  This provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and other essential projects that keep our people and our commerce moving quickly and safely. When the law expires, those projects will shut down, taking precious jobs with them.

Double Feature: This week on West Wing Week we follow Vice President Biden on his trip to Asia. Meanwhile, President Obama led the federal response to Hurricane Irene, made a key nomination announcement, and addressed the American Legion’s 93rd annual conference.

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